March 10, 2014, 12:38 pm
Obama drops Medicare changes
By Elise Viebeck
The Obama administration is abandoning a surprise plan to alter Medicare drug coverage rules after it was almost unanimously panned by Congress and K Street.
Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner alerted lawmakers Monday that her agency would not finalize regulations giving insurers more leeway to limit the number of drugs they cover for Medicare beneficiaries.
Critics argued that making the change, which the administration said would save money, would have hampered seniors' access to necessary medications
Democrats had worried the issue could have hurt them in the midterm elections.
Tavennar's announcement means six classes of prescription drugs will continue to be subject to strict rules that would require that nearly all drugs in the classes be covered under Medicare.
If the change had gone forward, only three classes of drugs would have been subject to those rules.
“We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” Tavenner wrote in a letter to lawmakers announcing the administration was backing off.
“We are committed to continuing to work with Congress to continue to ensure that Parts C and D work best for Medicare beneficiaries.”